“I’ve had ovarian cancer five times. It’s a bitch of a disease, but I have a lot to live for.”
The late Helen Hatzis (1965-2016) was more than an ovarian cancer patient. She was a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and friend. Helen was a dedicated speech pathologist, teacher, mentor and philanthropist.
Helen’s support network
“The diagnosis really crystallised how lucky I am to have these people in my life.”
When we think about ovarian cancer, we think about the women diagnosed. But we often forget that ovarian cancer has a far-reaching impact, affecting not only the women with cancer, but also their family and friends.
When Helen passed away, her brother Nicholas Kalogeropoulos was one of those left behind in the wake of her passing.
As siblings, Nicholas and Helen were deeply connected with each other. They had been present in each other’s lives through all of their ups and downs.
“My sister loved a party so we host a disco called 35+GST to celebrate her life and have raised over $44k for the OCRF. This is a bi-annual event with the next one earmarked for May 2021,” says Nicholas.
For Nicholas, finding ways to memorialise his sister was important to help keep her memory alive. Nicholas has been supportive of his sister Christina and their extended family forming the Helen's Hope Committee to honour her legacy. The committee has brought together so many people to raise funds for ovarian cancer research through OCRF.
“I found the OCRF when I was first googling ovarian cancer. I wanted to give something back in addition to raising awareness. So many women are rendered silent by this unrelenting disease.”
In her eight year journey with ovarian cancer, Helen became an ambassador for the OCRF. She hosted and spoke at functions raising awareness about this insidious disease and the need for an early detection test to change the statistics where, in Australia, a woman dies every 8 hours from ovarian cancer.
“Unfortunately, my older sister passed away from this insidious disease. Not enough is known about ovarian cancer, and unlike breast cancer, there is no early detection,” says Nicholas.
early detection saves lives
At OCRF, our immediate aim is to develop a non-invasive, accessible and reliable early detection test that could have saved Helen’s life.
According to ovarian cancer researcher Dr Kristina Warton, “if you can find cancer early with a test, that is literally as good as a cure because if you catch the cancer early you can cure it through surgery.”
The OCRF granted $300,530 in funding for Kristina’s research project on a new blood test which would help detect ovarian cancer early.
Nicholas is determined to see families avoid what his had to go through, and is excited that the funds raised by Helen's Hope and 35+GST have helped support research such as Dr Kristina Warton's.
However, critical early detection research like Kristina’s cannot occur without the amazing and tireless efforts of people like Nicholas.
Just like Nicholas, you can take action to support this life-changing research. It is Helen’s hope, and our mission, that no woman - or their loved ones - are left in the dark when it comes to ovarian cancer.